A Conversation with Jon Rafman (NSFW video)

May 12, 2010 · Print This Article

Jon Rafman and I had a chance to catch up in Second Life last week and do a series of interviews that culminated in the above video (which contains NSFW graphic imagery near the end). We discuss his recent work and its relationship to cinema studies, as well as talk about how the work digests contemporary Modern experiences.

I suggest that projects like Brand New Paint Job and Woods of Arcady operate as a kind of collision between High Modernism and amateur consumer technology, and that these fusions provide a unique critical comment on nascent mash-up cultures that exist online. Jon and I also discuss how his inclusion in jstChillin’s Avatar4D show in San Fransisco, and involvement with that emergent netart community, has influenced his artistic process. Jon comments on how his discovery of nasty nets rekindled his artistic sense of inquiry and how the mobility and quickness of blogs and surf clubs fostered a dialogue that he found absent from contemporary art circles he had participated in up to that point.

Later in the interview, I ask Jon if he finds that his new found sense of discovery of working online manifests itself in his (now highly popular) Kool-Aid Man tours in Second Life. The initial location for Jon’s journey and participation within these virtual worlds comes from the joy of spatial exploration and subsequent need for spatial mastery within 3D environments. We wrap up our conversation by discussing how working with Second Life, and developing real meaningful relationships within that environment, has led him to invest in the ideas of multi-user experiences as a means of engaging and analyzing multi-layered artistic paradigms within networks.

Jon’s Google Street View project will be part of the opening festivities tonight at the FUTUREEVERYTHING festival in Manchester and will remain open until the 23rd of May. You can also visit his site for more information: http://jonrafman.com/

4 Responses to “A Conversation with Jon Rafman (NSFW video)”

  1. [...] crap, this is amazing. Bad at Sports interviews Second Life Kool Aid man artist Jon Rafman…in Second Life. (Watch for the Tai Chi at 3:50 and the marijuana grow room — complete with bong hits — [...]

  2. [...] A social economy of reblogged material is an expression of exchange-value. The objective of this system is recurrence–to be bought/reblogged the maximum number of times at the greatest price/digital visibility possible. This consensual process of peer-to-peer dispersion does not mean there is a system of discipline in place for internet artists who step outside the limits of what is artistically ‘acceptable’, but a series of pre-emptively controlling factors over the type of content circulated within Web 2.0 art networks. This control privileges aesthetic interoperability in a way best articulated through Postel’s Law, “be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others,” which is to say that art produced for Web 2.0 platforms must conservatively anticipate the constrictions of its environment to be most liberally circulated within it. When applied to networks like Tumblr, interoperability should be defined on two levels. First, the formal interoperability of a Web 2.0 work is determined by the categorical distinctions between mediums most blogging services offer. What is not singularly defined as an image, video, or textual piece of content is unable to be transferred through these channels. Web 2.0 users’ inability to combine mediums at the moment of production is a severe limitation to the creative process and fosters a regressive, if unintentional, return to medium specificity. Even works that adhere to a single medium are still subject to further scrutiny. For instance, a video artwork that allows users to embed it in a greater number of websites (as opposed to only being viewable through its source, like most Quicktime files) is automatically ‘privileged’ because it will be able to be appropriated by a wider audience. As artist Jon Rafman says, [...]

  3. [...] A social economy of reblogged material is an expression of exchange-value. The objective of this system is recurrence–to be bought/reblogged the maximum number of times at the greatest price/digital visibility possible. This consensual process of peer-to-peer dispersion does not mean there is a system of discipline in place for internet artists who step outside the limits of what is artistically ‘acceptable’, but a series of pre-emptively controlling factors over the type of content circulated within Web 2.0 art networks. This control privileges aesthetic interoperability in a way best articulated through Postel’s Law, “be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others,” which is to say that art produced for Web 2.0 platforms must conservatively anticipate the constrictions of its environment to be most liberally circulated within it. When applied to networks like Tumblr, interoperability should be defined on two levels. First, the formal interoperability of a Web 2.0 work is determined by the categorical distinctions between mediums most blogging services offer. What is not singularly defined as an image, video, or textual piece of content is unable to be transferred through these channels. Web 2.0 users’ inability to combine mediums at the moment of production is a severe limitation to the creative process and fosters a regressive, if unintentional, return to medium specificity. Even works that adhere to a single medium are still subject to further scrutiny. For instance, a video artwork that allows users to embed it in a greater number of websites (as opposed to only being viewable through its source, like most Quicktime files) is automatically ‘privileged’ because it will be able to be appropriated by a wider audience. As artist Jon Rafman says, [...]

  4. [...] that, in their form, brilliantly reflect the interview’s subject matter itself (check out Nicholas’ interview with “Kool Aid Man” Jon Rafman –conducted inside Second Life — to see what I mean). Within the next few weeks Nicholas [...]

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